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Grateful for FeedForward – Even Feedback!

On this Thanksgiving week, the plan was to address another topic. However, the beautiful thing about having your own blog is that you can change your mind!

We’ve discussed all aspects of Feedback and what FeedForward looks like in this month’s blogs. Last week we talked about receiving feedback. Are you feeling grateful for the feedback you’ve received over the years?

Gratitude for some feedback may be challenging. I know personally, I’ve received feedback during my career that was not solicited or appreciated. Feedback can sometimes feel as if the other person has an agenda that serves them versus providing thoughtful suggestions on how you can improve.

How can you find gratitude for all the types of feedback you might receive?

Listen Intently

Whether it’s Feedback or FeedForward – you will only learn and be able to improve if you’re

listening intently. This is hard to do when you are compelled to defend your actions. What I have found is that even in the worst delivery there might be some truth – an inkling of what you might want to work on.

When I was new in management, I was eager. So eager that I found out I annoyed my peers by the number of questions I would ask at manager meetings. While they were wanting to run of to the break, I still had my hand up. Although I heard the sighs, I persisted.

The feedback I received was that, “I talked too much and asked too many questions." I wanted to defend myself. I felt that when I asked questions, it was valuable to the entire group. Could I have recognized that my question could hold until after the break? Certainly. Could I ask the presenter one-off and trust that if it was information everyone needed, they would share? Certainly.

Looking back, I realize I was not aware of others’ feelings and needs in that moment.

I’ve learned from that feedback that there’s a lot of truth in that when we as women speak, how we present our ideas, how many words we use, the tone, pitch, and volume all impact how others perceive us.

Although being told I talked to much and asked too many questions was offensive in the moment, I later realized if I could be more thoughtful and selective with my questions and more succinct in the delivery – I didn’t get as many signs of exhaustion, they were more of appreciation.

In the book How Women Rise, Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith provide validation that we in general do talk more than men. “Research shows that women speak and average of 20,000 words a day while men typically speak around 7,000.”

This research was not available over 20 years ago or how my “talking too much” could impact my rise when my manager provided the feedback, however here it is – a reason I might have wanted to work on the way I presented my thoughts in meetings.

Do I still talk a lot and occasionally annoy those around me with my questions – possibly! I have, however, continued to work on how to fine tune what I have to say so that I’m heard and not tuned out.

Communication FeedForward

You might be wondering what tools or resources I use to work on my communication, and more specifically, become more succinct in my message. Since 2017 I’ve been part of a local Toastmasters club whose membership is all women! It’s been a wonderfully safe place for me to get better and receive FeedForward.

Each prepared speech, every speaking opportunity at my bi-weekly meetings, I receive evaluations on how much I use filler words, how I stay within the timeframe for that speech, and how I did with the format of my delivery.

I get to practice my ability to think on my feet with our Table Topics. If filling the role of Toastmaster, I get to select the theme and organize the meeting agenda. All these skills are supporting my quest to be a better communicator, in addition to continually work on my leadership skills.

The best part of my Toastmasters experience is the FeedForward I have received. It’s truly a practice in FeedForward – how can I improve and make it better next time.

For formal evaluations, we follow a Good, Better, Best method. What did the speaker do well? Where could they challenge themselves to be better next time? What was the best thing about the presentation? All focused on positive reinforcement of what went well and where there’s opportunity to get better.

My Toastmasters family has helped me make progress as a presenter and a leader. FeedForward provided from the heart and with good intention to help me become better. This may sound very serious, but it’s also seriously fun to be surrounded by amazing women with a common purpose!

What’s the Feedback or Feedforward you’re most grateful for? How have you accepted feedback and implemented change that has created progress? We’d love to have you share as a site member of JennQuest in the comments below.

If you’re interested in Women’s Leadership and want to join me for my bi-weekly Toastmasters Meeting – you can no matter where you live as we set up Zoom every session and conduct our meetings in a Hybrid format. Guests are always welcome! Learn more at Let me know if you’re coming!

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